Help for PR Pros to Start Their Coronavirus Plans

Where does the communicator start? With panicked stories circulating in the media, employee and customer concerns are rising. Is your communications instilling confidence in them? Does your message make it clear that the company is concerned about employees’ and customers' health? Do you have pre-approved plans to communicate issues?

Have you begun conducting exercises to prepare your crisis team for COVID-19 scenarios? Do you have clearly articulated policies for remote work? How about travel? Have you thought about business continuity or using measurement to arrive at decisions? Who will articulate policies and new iterations of them for coronavirus? Which platforms will you use? Do you have an alert system in place?

We asked T. Garland Stansell, CCO of Children’s of Alabama, the pediatric health system, and the PRSA chair, to provide building blocks for a coronavirus strategic communications plan. His edited remarks are below.


Bring together the right people within your organization with whom to strategize, and make sure you have the facts so you can make informed decisions. Decide with leadership who within the organization is authorized to speak on the topic.


Determine with leaders what information to share. Ensure that information and facts used are from a trusted and knowledgeable source, such as the CDC or World Health Organization.

Whatever tactics you use, whether it’s email, phone calls, in-person meetings, social media, press conferences or other means of communication, make sure that your messaging is consistent and that everyone speaks with the same voice.


The news cycle changes by the second. When working with the media make sure you present information that is credible but that doesn’t sacrifice accuracy or your reputation. Communicate early and often. This will help keep the focus on what is happening, and allow you to tailor your strategy as new developments occur.

This article is part of PRNEWS' daily COVID-19 coverage, click here to see the latest updates.